Valentine’s Day causes nothing but anxiety for a lot of people, whether they are happily ensconced in a couple or living their best single life. There is an element of cliche which is hard to avoid, the sparkly red hearts are already cropping up on cards in every corner shop up and down the country, and we are awash with chocolates and confectionary. The enforced fun is oddly reminiscent of New Year but with ‘couple goals’ instead of alcohol.
To try and make a stand out day or evening of it, a little more creativity than a restaurant booking is required. We are here to help! At Urban Guides we have scoured Manchester to find the best alternative days out and evening events to impress your partner (romantic or otherwise).
For The Retro Pair
If being crammed into a restaurant, knees touching complete strangers, listening to the passive-aggressive argument two tables down is not your bag- how about going old school? Start off with an afternoon of trawling the vintage shops for your new favourite piece in your wardrobe. We suggest heading over to the Northern Quarter and checking out Bags of Flavor, Retro Rehab, Pop Boutique and Blue Rinse.
Round off your afternoon with a little lane action by heading down to Dog Bowl. Not best for the diet conscious, this slice of 50’s American Culture should be right up your retro alley! With a full cocktail list and American themed food, it is time to give Valentine’s Day a competitive edge!
For Cocktail Connoisseurs
Whether you know your way around behind the bar, or can’t tell a Mojito from a Mai Tai, a cocktail masterclass can be a classy way to get drunk and learn some skills to impress your friends at the next dinner party. Start your evening with a little inspiration (or so we have dubbed it) at one of Manchester’s top cocktail bars; Arcane. With an extensive cocktail list that offers old favourites as well as daring new additions, coupled with a well-stocked Gin bar, Arcane is the first stop for any beverage buff.
Follow this up by trying your own hand at Revolucion De Cuba. they have lots of different packages; you can take you masterclass on the rocks, or with a 2-course meal to soak up some of the alcohol. Enjoy the easy sensuality of the Latino vibe and unwind without all the traditional Valentine’s Day angst.
For The Dark Tourists
You will want to start this evening early at one of Manchester’s many hidden gem bars. To get into the mood for the night, we suggest heading over to The Temple whose unusual location – an old underground public toilet – may not necessarily scream romance, but we did tell you this was alternative! The Wash House has a speakeasy vibe hidden under a launderette facade. Finding it can be a problem but it is worth the effort.
Next, you can head out to The Original Manchester Ghost Walk. guaranteed to be a cliche-free Valentine’s Day experience, you can wander the streets of historic Manchester and gain a little insight into the city’s creepy and sordid past. This is all horror and no hearts- perfect surprise for a partner with a darker side!
For The Activists
If you and your partner consider yourselves politically minded or have an interest in the city’s history, you may be looking for something beyond the hearts and confetti. Radical politics and romantic attractions may not appear to go hand in hand, however, there have been couple’s that have shaped the country and found their activist soul mate to become a power couple (in all senses of the phrase).
Start your evening at the People’s History Museum where you can join the Radical Relationships Guided Tour. It is free but with a suggested donation and is the perfect activity for an educational evening.
After the tour is finished, continue your evening of intellectual interest over at The Briton’s Protection. This pub dates back to 1806 and the Peterloo Massacre happened close by and is depicted on a wall mural. Enjoy the whiskey collection as you get down to the nitty-gritty of a well-meaning debate.
For The Literary Lovers
Even in the technological age that we live in, the power of prose, the all-encompassing magic of storytelling is irrefutable. Many people find refuge in between covers and would rather be snuggled up with a good book than almost anywhere else in the world. If you can prise them away from their paperbacks, we have an evening just for them.
Let’s start with a book lovers dream, to be locked in a library after hours. Ok maybe not locked in, but one of the oldest libraries in the English speaking world is offering self-guided tours after hours. Head over to Chetham’s Library and investigate the stone passages and secret stairways, be ready for a couple of other surprises!
Join us every Wednesday for our Open Mic Night. We’ve got room on our stage for everyone…
Whether you’re an aspiring musician, poet or comedian, it’s time to put yourself out there. ?️?
Gatsby is synonymous with glitz, glamour and all the decadence that the prohibition had to offer. After you wanderings around Chetham’s Library, mooch over to The Fitzgerald to get your fill of knockout cocktails and speakeasy indulgence. The instantly instagrammable location will make any bookworm pleased they left their beloved volumes alone for the night.